Sunday, 28 February 2010

Facebook Terrorism

I logged onto my Facebook account this morning to this:

(Click to enlarge)

Honestly, I have had it up to HERE with these people. When are they going to learn I DON’T HAVE A CAR and I DON’T LIKE WASHING MY FACE IN THE BLOOD OF THE ENEMY!


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Quizzical Furore in the 7th Parallax

I once knew this girl whose brain exploded out the back of her head. It happened at the bus stop on Hanover Street, Edinburgh. Her name was Trixie, which wasn’t her real name. No, her real name was Trixilina Dixie III. So yes – that brain went boom-splat.

The incident came as a surprise to me, as I had been in Avalanche records a moment prior, choosing a Belle & Sebastian over a Right Said Fred record. Even more odd was that Stuart Murdoch and Richard Fairbrass were bare-knuckle fighting outside in a cube. Odd.

I trundled to the bus stop, thinking how human existence was a continual pull between deprivation, disappointment and disgust, vs. illumination, incandescence and love. I was, at the time, in love with a woman named Biro. Her legs were pens – each toe a different colour and font – and I took her with me to lectures and libraries.

Trouble was, one day her ink ran dry, and she took off with a sleazy octopus named ψ. This is when I first spotted Trixie. She was leaning over a muskrat from Portugal, helping it with its benefit claim form. I was hopping up and down, hoping to get off with a one-legged girl on a pogo stick.

It never transpired. What I did notice was a tattoo on Trixie’s leg that read DÉCOR IS FUTILE. I learned from a friend that she was at war with interior designers. This war lasted months. Her house was painted when she was out, design plans were smuggled into her drawers, men fired paint at her in the street.

One night, an agent planted a quarter of dynamite in her cheek. The dynamite had been deactivated, but if she resisted any longer, they could reactivate and blow her brain out for good.

The reason the trigger was pushed? For weeks, the interior designers started stealing petunias from Nicola Barker’s garden, which was out of order. Trixie responded with this controversial protest painting:

The interior designers lost it. They pushed the trigger, and that was that. They are still terrorising the lovely author’s petunias and being general nuisances to every experimental novelist in the UK. Trixie is OK – she had a bad migraine for weeks, but her brain was sold back to her on Ebay.

But enough silliness. How are you, sweetie pie? Have you been burped today?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Bald Authors

Who are your favourite bald authors? Don't know any? Let me guide you through the wonderfully exciting realm of the slaphead scribe, the piebald prosemaster, the depilated dilettante.

1. Fyodor Dostoevsky

This romping tiger started his literary career sweeping up for famous authors. He began writing prose poems about cabbage while cleaning up after Dave Eggers (a notorious guzzler of granola and banana milk), then moved on to full-length novels set in 19th century tsarist Russia.

Known for his slapstick humour and light-hearted prod at suicide, penury and Russian feudalism, Fyodor has become a hit with the hip people in NYC and Galashields. His latest work, Lemme A Fiver, was published by Artichoke Books.

He isn't a full-blown slaphead, merely short up top. Nevertheless, that combover ain't fooling no-one. Tip: if you want to make a name for yourself as a bald author, it pays to do the full cranial shave.

2. John Barth

This children's author is known for his clever female characters and staggering talent at making short men appear better at checkers than tall men. His legs are known for their ability to stretch between continents, making them a popular alternative to airplane flight (though he has stopped the service for now).

His novels are very very short and often written in Arabic for a laugh. It is said he frequents a cave with a pack of giraffes on loan from Norwegian blogs. His resemblance to the actor Ron West has been noted.

His latest novel, The Slightly Abashed Whelk, is not out yet.

3. Saul Bellow

Known in the UK for his time on drums for pop group The Flatulent Sopranos, Bellow emerged as one of the finest knitters of his generation. After a meeting with Martin Amis, he decided not to pursue prose, and instead wrote songs about bandages that leaked too much pus.

Later on, he wrote a novel and it won the Somerset Michael Barrymore Award for the best novel about an accidental pool drowning. The novel was reprinted in forty countries upside down, which was rather stupid.

His baldness is age-related, though it is believed he might have been bald once as a baby (perhaps a few moments following birth).

4. Ralph Ellison

In 1969, he wrote and directed a movie about space and things that was used by NASA as the official moon landing footage. To prevent the government smothering him in his sleep, he changed sex and became a member of the Bangles.

In his 70s, he wrote the novel My Life as a Bangle and won the Nobel Prize For Books That Make Good Kindling. His baldness occurred during the transfromation from white Californian woman into black octogenarian.

He is also proficient at the abacus.

5. David Shields

Within this quite spectacular baldie dome rests the mind of a absolutely atrocious watchmaker. His career twisting little cogs and fitting teensy bolts into watches ended on the first day when he walked out after a few minutes.

His bald pate is too remarkable to merit me writing any spuriously true biographical details, so please – appreciate this quite astounding slaphead. Thanks.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Manifestly Unreal

Having spent last week as a greased manslut in the darkest sleaze pit in Domingo, tending to voles with enormous erogenous zones (some 12x46cm in diameter and larger than marquees), I decided a little light reading might be in order.

I perused the sample literature in the mancubine – a dog-eared Saul Bellow, an illustrated history of perfumery in the 20th century, the Penguin Book of Inappropriate Beards. Although the imagery in More Die of Heartbreak was somewhat appetising and the struggles of perfumers to bottle the essence of man was diverting – no book quelled my nodules.

After vigorous intercourse with a pliant stoat, I found an unproofed edition of David Shields’s Reality Hunger – A Manifesto and delved into this handsomely covered book.

The book is a selection of quotations and excerpts plucked from the last five centuries of thought, divided into twenty-six topics to create a comprehensive overview of realism in contemporary literature. It is fitting that I should read a book about realism in a fictitious set of circumstances and not (as actually happened) in a series of white-walled rooms.

The quotations and excerpts selected range from familiar perennials – the good artist borrows, the great artist steals, and so on – to random snippets from interviews with various writers/artists designed for maximum pretentioso factor. Also included are attacks on James Frey, non sequiturs on narrative approaches, irritating blobs of pompous self-indulgence, and one or two interesting things. These lovingly chosen excerpts have been pasted into a novel to create a constantly self-contradicting textual entity.

The end message being…? How about that reality has been distorted to such an extent, we are no longer able to represent reality in art. How does that grab you? This book is a cri de coeur of sorts, but to whom, I’ve no idea. The American literati? The humble scribe working in dead-end jobs en route to the loot?

As a manifesto it fails, as there is no one coherent line. You can’t have a manifesto instructing people to carry on as they were creating new forms of expression and art. That’s the literary equivalent of looking at something, nodding assent, and making money from it.

Anyway – end verdict. Quite annoying. Like a bunch of talking heads coming together and saying not very much at all. Sorry Davie.

Back to the stoat pleasure I go.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

I am going batshit crazy, my friends.

Sometimes there are days, weeks or months in a writer’s life when extracting words from his brain is akin to setting upon a paperclip with a JCB. Or eating soup with a fork. Or reading a book with both eyes closed. Or dancing the Watusi on crutches. Or mixing metaphors with business and pleasure.

I have encountered such a week. Returning from pleasurable isolation in the Highlands, where I was prosperous on the writing front, the last five days have been nightmarish. I have stared at paragraphs for up to seven hours, willing them into completion through telescribenesis. I have bent the space-time continuum making nouns fit into sentences. To no avail.

I have been plagued with various anxieties around domestic arrangements (spazzing out at bills and the like), taking this to levels of parodic madness. In fact, I think I have gone bonkers. On Thursday I threw a mad tantrum when I was sent a basic request for personal info from the council. BONKERS.

I believe this is part of a greater descent into lunacy. This is how it starts. I imagine the sinister vampires from the council are out to eat me, and I retreat into Philip K. Dick-like levels of paranoia, bolting the door shut and surviving on roasted carpet droppings and boiled lampshades.

Then I begin self-cannibalising. First I will devour my arm, then I will nibble on my legs, devouring the armpits with fingernail entrées. Next I will gobble down a fresh tendon with a side dish of bottom blood, evacuated through the insertion of a pipette into the anus, sucked out through attaching a Dyson nuzzle to the straw tip.


Whenever I find stress overwhelming I retreat into obscure weirdness. Locating unusual indie rock records from the mid-90s such as Cynthia Dall’s untitled debut record. Reading a children’s book with an HIV subtext written when homosexuality was outré. Pretending to be interested in other people and things happening in the world.

Most of the time I want to hide. When the phone rings I freak out and start sweating. Societal conventions deem you have to SPEAK to people. I hate when the door buses. I hate having to go out to get groceries. I am warm in my cloak of obscurity, distanced from the clawing insistence of reality. I am Eloise from
Lucy Ellmann’s Man or Mango? – A Lament.(Which you must read).

This week I am closing the curtains, unhooking the phone, and battling the screen. Then, when the doom descends, I am warming up the oven, greasing myself up, and climbing inside.

Here is a picture of a polyp:

Monday, 8 February 2010

I am becoming such a whore.

I love it when two or three stories are published simultaneously. It makes me feel like McSweeto, Indian God of Crap Online Fiction. Other Indian Gods include Bunmama, He of Free Verse Poetry Rejection Emails, and Noanever, God of Automated Nay, We Shan’t Be Publishing You, So Piss Orf Forms.

First up is the story I like the most, a tale of commuter discomfort and bovine train raids,
The 3.45 to Prestwich. People I like, used to like, and pretended to like have been published at Bartleby Snopes (which almost sounds like a proper publisher’s name), so this makes me feel included in the gangbang.

Next is the first in a series of stories about the humiliation, degradation, depression, suicidal woe, pain, discomfort, awkwardness, and erm... magic in losing one’s virginity. This first one is flecked with that ludicrous humour I am partial to. You say: “Oh, MJ, it is most amusing when thee makes with the funnies!”

Hee hee. Yes. Chuckle thee raw at
Clean Sheets with The Virginity Chronicles [1].

Next up is the penultimate installment in the neverending series of masturbatory sagas featuring characters intent on tearing asunder my skull. This episode features lipless suitors, a biscuit-challenged cabbie, radical atheist Mikhail Bakunin, and some form of ending.
A Modern Narrative [5] is at Piker Press.

Lastly, a story I wrote when I was barely out of nappies is forthcoming in
Cantaraville 9. I don’t know who reads this publication outside of a band of Californian hipsters, but I hope they find my weird endeavor Day of the Clown Conspirators food for their over-caffeinated brains. The cost for this PDF is… some pounds. Not sure yet.

Thus ends the self-love portion of my week. Thank you to those who published me, and an even bigger thanks to those who helped these stories come to life, and an even bigger thanks to those who have no intention of reading these stories and couldn’t care less who this M.J. Nicholls tosser is. You make it all worthwhile!

P.S. Link to Cantaraville will be updated when #9 finally gets freed. Now sod orf!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Notes on Editing

Since I signed up for my first writing workshop four years ago, ‘tis been a torturous route into proofreading and editing my own fiction.

I used to adhere to the Surrealist principal that whatever came out would do, baby. Choatic brainsplatter is as close to the raw unconscious beauty that one seeks in art, so who needs to proofread? Well, I did. Badly.

So I attended Edinburgh University’s Creative Writing Workshop. It was – not to mince words – shit. I was sharing work with people who hadn’t read it in advance, I received such staggering comments as ‘this bit is good’ and ‘I didn’t like this’ and so on. On the plus side, it gave me the belief that I might actually be good at this writing thing. I also met the most important human being in my life there, but that’s too dull for a blog.

So. I moved on. I tinkered on reviewing sites. It was on a semi-decent website that I met a group of super reviewers and began proofreading and editing proper. Without this site, I wouldn’t have thought to break down paragraphs into manageable chunks, to use only one adjective instead of fourteen, or learn the discipline of hacking the insides out a first draft.

Now I have the proofreading skill at a reasonable rate (far from perfect), the next task is identifying the flaws in style, intent, approach, plot and character. How can we tell what is the right way of going about things? Obvious answer is – does this page of writing make us laugh, smile, want to read on, enthrall us, interest us, make us curious or do something of note?

These are good starting points. More to follow.